BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Stepping forward with a big check and words of support, a total stranger helped a local family with the costs to bury a 23-year-old stabbing victim.
After seeing a plea from the overwhelmed family, an Eyewitness News viewer gave $1,000 to the family of Caleb Corpe.
On Thursday afternoon, Robin Cooper had a friend drive her to the family's home to give them the funds.
"It's going to be a hard road for a long time," Cooper told the victim's wife, Justine Corpe. "And you've just got to try to be as strong as you can for this little man."
The young widow was holding her baby and blinking back tears.
Caleb Corpe was stabbed on Dec. 18 in a parking lot on Roberts Lane in Oildale. He later died of his injuries, leaving behind his wife and son, as well as a close-knit family.
On Christmas Eve, Caleb's sister and brother talked about their loss, and the daunting cost for a burial.
"He was just awesome, everybody who knew Caleb loved him," said Sianie Wallace, Corpe's sister. "It's so hard for our family right now."
That's what got to Cooper, and she immediately started calling to ask about donating to the family. That connection happened Thursday.
"I'm still in shock," Justine Corpe said. "I didn't even believe that it was going to happen until she showed up right now."
The family had some car wash fund raisers over the weekend, and Corpe said they are very grateful for every donation. But, they still didn't have all the necessary funds for the funeral and burial. Then, Cooper arrived with that check.
"This is just amazing, like an angel," Corpe said.
Cooper has an oilfield maintenance company, and says many of her workers heard about the stabbing and the family's needs.
"I had a dozen of my men call, and asking me if I heard about this particular incident," Cooper said. "They were like, 'should we do something?' I said, yes -- we will."
Cooper says she also has a brother who was shot years ago. He survived, but that also gives her a perspective on what the family's going through. She's also frustrated by so many incidents of violence, and says that leads to pain and loss for so many loved ones.
"That little 8-month-old baby, he'll never get to know his daddy," she told the young widow. "Just because of one fast move, from one person."
The Kern County Sheriff's Office has identified the suspect as Ronald Burchett, 57.
Investigators say it's believed Burchett stabbed Corpe in the upper body and then took off on foot.
On Thursday a sheriff's spokesman said officers are still looking for Burchett, and they urge anyone with information to call KCSO at (661) 861-3110.
Cooper also got a hug from Caleb's mother, as she delivered her check. Cooper said she wants the violence to stop, but for now at least she can try to help victims.
"That's all we can do is give," Cooper said. "We can't bring him back for you kids. But it's a hard deal."